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Ralph McQuarrie Has Died
Legendary concept artist was 82

04 March 2012  |  Written by James White  |  Source: Tor

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The world of science fiction and fantasy art and design has lost one of its true legends as Ralph McQuarrie died today at the age of 82.

McQuarrie began his design career after moving to California from Indiana in the early 1960s. While he started out working as a technical illustrator for Boeing, he also found jobs designing film posters and providing animation elements for CBS News coverage of the Apollo space program.

An offer to work on concept art for a film project followed, and his designs caught the eye of director George Lucas, who had an idea for a little movie about adventures in space. McQuarrie worked on designs for Star Wars before it was even known by that name and, in 1975, was commissioned to provide the now iconic designs for the likes of Chewbacca and Darth Vader, plus many concepts for the sets and ships. His art actually helped convince 20th Century Fox to take a gamble on Lucas’ dreams, making him a key component in one of the most beloved franchises of all time.

"I just did my best to depict what I thought the film should look like, I really liked the idea,” he’s since said. “I didn't think the film would ever get made. My impression was it was too expensive. There wouldn't be enough of an audience. It's just too complicated. But George knew a lot of things that I didn't know."

Lucas naturally asked him to work on The Empire Strikes Back and Return Of The Jedi, and he even got to appear on screen in the uncredited role of General McQuarrie. But despite his close connection to the Star Wars universe, he declined Lucas’ offer to return for the prequels, commenting that he'd rather hand the baton to a new generation of artists and designers.

Outside of Star Wars, McQuarrie worked closely with Steven Spielberg on Close Encounters Of The Third Kind and ET, providing the jaw-dropping designs for alien vessels. He also contributed to Raiders Of The Lost Ark and won an Oscar for Cocoon before moving on to work as either a consultant or the concept artist for such films as Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Batteries Not Included and Jurassic Park.

A true original, McQuarrie is survived by Joan, his wife.

Ralph McQuarrie Star Wars Concept Art - Darth Vader

Ralph McQuarrie Star Wars Concept Art - C3P0 and R2D2

Ralph McQuarrie Star Wars Concept Art - X-Wing and TIE Fighter

Ralph McQuarrie Star Wars Concept Art - Hoth, AT-AT with Snowspeeder

Ralph McQuarrie Star Wars Concept Art - Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader

Ralph McQuarrie Star Wars Concept Art - Empire Strikes Back

Ralph McQuarrie Star Wars Concept Art - Endor, Speederbike chase

Ralph McQuarrie Star Wars Concept Art - The Emperor electrocuting Luke Skywalker

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Your Comments

RIP Ralph
He gave us some of the most iconic characters, settings and design in film history, a true legend and inspiration. Thank you Ralph and Rest in Peace. More

Posted by WillKenobi at 23:26 on 06 March 2012 | Report This Post

A legend!
Look at the movies he worked on. Look at the artwork he created. The guy leaves behind an artistic legacy on a level that most people could only dream of and millions have dreamed over the years of characters that helped to bring "life" to. Thanks, Ralph! More

Posted by oldstuff at 20:19 on 05 March 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Thank you Ralph
RIP, RALPH MACQUARRIE. Your art inspired me, I can give no greater compliment than that. May Rhadamanthus welcome you with open arms. More

Posted by King of Kafiristan at 20:07 on 05 March 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Thank you Ralph
RIP     More

Posted by NCC1701A at 10:10 on 05 March 2012 | Report This Post

Thank you Ralph
A true inspiration to me, his work alone inspired me to put pencil to paper. Thank you Ralph. More

Posted by gordonsalive at 21:22 on 04 March 2012 | Report This Post

A Legend passes
May the great man rest in peace. More

Posted by 99intheshade at 17:21 on 04 March 2012 | Report This Post

A legend has left us...
Peace to you Ralph, wherever your soul may be... More

Posted by The Watcher at 16:50 on 04 March 2012 | Report This Post

God bless Ralph
i owe my whole career, illustration style and genuine love of design to ralph mcquarrie. god bless the man More

Posted by marcusmarritt at 15:50 on 04 March 2012 | Report This Post

Very very very sad.
Farewell Ralph. You will be missed by all film fans. More

Posted by Cyberleader at 13:11 on 04 March 2012 | Report This Post

Very sad news
RIP Ralph, you never knew it but the work based on your designs has made me very happy for a long, long time and will continue to do so for even longer. More

Posted by drawmyfoot at 11:34 on 04 March 2012 | Report This Post

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